Member of Lawrence Kidnapping Crew Sentenced to 23 Years in Prison
BOSTON – A member of a Lawrence-based kidnapping crew was sentenced today in federal court in Boston for his role in a 2012 kidnapping.
Gadiel Romero, a/k/a “TC,” 33, was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns to 23 years in prison and three years of supervised release. Romero previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping.
Romero was charged in connection with a wide-ranging investigation targeting violent kidnapping and home invasion crews operating in Lawrence. According to court documents, these crews – often referred to as “joloperros,” which loosely translates to “stick-up guys” – were organized, armed and violent.
Romero was identified as part of a violent, sophisticated kidnapping crew that included Danny Veloz, a/k/a “Maestro,” Jose Guzman, a/k/a “Cano,” Jose Matos, a/k/a “Boyca,” and Luis Reynoso, a/k/a “Prieto,” all of Lawrence; Henry Maldonado, of Manchester, N.H., and Thomas Wallace of Raynham, N.H.
On July 23, 2012, armed with firearms and wearing t-shirts with the word “police” on them, the crew kidnapped two men at gunpoint on Allston Street in Lawrence. The victims were transported to Manchester, N.H. and held overnight – during which time one was burned with a hot iron – before being rescued by law enforcement. Several cooperating defendants advised that the July 23, 2012 kidnapping was one of several kidnappings or attempted kidnappings committed by this crew in Lawrence in 2012.
This crew was one of several kidnapping and home invasion crews identified during the federal investigation. The crews typically kidnapped drug dealers for large ransoms that were paid in cash or drugs; used safe houses to stash their victims; and used sophisticated tracking techniques, such as GPS devices, to follow their victims. The crews targeted drug dealers because they believed that the drug dealers were unlikely to cooperate with law enforcement, were subject to deportation, or feared reprisals, either against themselves or their families in Lawrence or in their native country. Numerous kidnapping victims described how they were abducted, tortured, and forced to pay ransoms of hundreds of thousands of dollars (either in the U.S. or in the Dominican Republic) to joloperros crew members. Victims were burned, scarred, bruised, and given other significant physical injuries marking them as kidnapping victims. During the investigation, law enforcement seized dozens of firearms, including shotguns, GPS devices, irons used to torture victims, masks, zip ties, t-shirts with the word “police” on them, fake police badges, handcuffs, and drugs.
Since the investigation began in 2012, more than 20 people have been convicted of either kidnapping-related offenses or being associated with members of Lawrence-based kidnapping or home invasion crews.
Matos was previously sentenced to 12 years in prison. Guzman, Maldonado, Wallace and Reynoso are scheduled to be sentenced in October 2017. Veloz is scheduled to stand trial on Aug. 7, 2017.
Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Colonel Richard D. McKeon, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett; Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger; Lawrence Police Chief James X. Fitzpatrick; and Manchester (N.H.) Police Chief Nick Willard made the announcement today. The cases are being prosecuted by Weinreb’s Organized Crime and Gang Unit.
The details contained in the charging document are allegations and the remaining defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in the court of law.